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Mombasa Golden Starburst Baboon Spider

Mombasa Baboon Spider, Orange Baboon Tarantula

Family: Theraphosidae Mombasa Golden Starburst Baboon Spider, Pterinochilus murinus, Mombasa Baboon Spider, Orange Baboon TarantulaPterinochilus murinusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Russ Gurley
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Hi, I recently adopted a Mombasa golden starburst baboon spider, and have no idea what to do? I am aracnafobic don't like spider at all since one nearly killed me,... (more)  Phillip Van Blerk

The Mombasa Golden Starburst Baboon Spider has a tough attitude, and a tough constitution!

The Mombasa Golden Starburst Baboon Spider Pterinochilus murinus is a very handsome African tarantula. Coming from the dry savanna scrublands, it is very hardy and adaptable in captivity.

Overall they are golden shade with their namesake starburst pattern on the carapace, but there are variations in their coloring. They can range from tan to a bright gold. These variants are thought to be accorded to each tarantula's geographic location, and possibly related to the type of soil found there.

Although the Mombasa Baboon Spider is one of the most common African tarantulas available, there are numerous color morphs. Many specimens that are available may not actually be this particular species of Pterinochilus. The name Starburst Baboon Spider actually encompass several species that were imported during the 1990s from Africa. They all have the typical body form but vary in color from grays and black, to pale mustard yellow to bright orange. Taxonomy is no doubt confusing and is in flux these days.

The most popular specimens seem to be the bright golden orange specimens. Common names you will find these specimens under include Starburst Baboon Spider, Mombasa Golden Starburst Tarantula, Mombasa Golden Starburst Baboon Spider, Orange Baboon Tarantula, Usambara Orange Baboon, and even the tongue in cheek name "Pterror," a pun on its attitude and Latin genus.

The Mombasa Golden Starburst Baboon Spider is a terrestrial species that can live just about anywhere. They tend to be a burrowing spider if the conditions support this, lining their burrow with silk. If the substrate is not adequate for a burrow they will construct their webs anywhere they can.

This spider is very fast and aggressive. If it is provoked it will readily display and bite. It should not be handled under any circumstances, and a bite can be medically significant for some people. Yet despite its aggressive nature, it will readily mate.

For more Information on keeping Tarantulas, see:
Keeping Arachnids and Other Arthropods as Pets

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Family: Theraphosidae
  • Genus: Pterinochilus
  • Species: murinus

Scientific NamePterinochilus murinus

Habitat: Distribution/BackgroundThe Mombasa Golden Starburst Baboon Spider Pterinochilus murinus was described by Reginald Innes Pocock in 1897. They are an "old world" African tarantula found in Zaire, Kenya, and Tanzania. Other common names they are known by are Starburst Baboon Spider, Mombasa Golden Starburst Tarantula, Mombasa Golden Starburst Baboon Spider, Orange Baboon Tarantula, Usambara Orange Baboon, and "Pterror".

StatusThe Pterinochilus murinus are not on the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species.

Description The true Sunburst Baboon Spider is bright mustard yellow with clean, dark markings. These markings include the characteristic starburst pattern on the cephalothora. Mombasa Golden Starburst Baboon Spiders are medium sized with up to a 6" (15 cm) leg span. Mature males, however, molt out at a very small size usually in the 2 - 3" (5 - 7.5 cm) range. Males are slender and long-legged compared to females and they have no tibial hooks for mating.

These spiders are fast growers, a male can mature in under a year with females taking a little longer. They are not as long lived as some of the other tarantulas, having a probably life span of only about 8 to 12 years.

Food and FeedingIn the wild their prey includes insects, lizards, mice, and other small animals. In captivity the Mombasa Golden Starburst Baboon Spider will do well on a diverse diet consisting of adult crickets, grasshoppers, Tenebrio larvae, and only occasional feedings (once or twice a month) of mice.

HousingThe Mombasa Golden Starburst Baboon Spiders live in heavily webbed burrows and are probably one of the most opportunistic of the Theraphosids. They are found in bushes and low trees, in burrows under rocks, in vacated animal burrows, under dog houses and sidewalks, and near human habitation. They commonly find a suitable opening and line it with large sheets of web. As they grow, they add exit holes and often an area to pick up vibrations or to funnel passing prey into close proximity.

Temperature and humidity requirements:

This species can be maintained at about at 77° to 86° F and a humidity of 40 to 60%. They are native to the drier regions of east Africa so need less moisture than many tarantulas. It is reported that even a moist substrate can affect them adversely.

Cage CareA good habit to get into is cleaning up any uneaten prey items the day after feeding your tarantula as decaying organic matter commonly attracts mites, fungus, mold and other potentially harmful organisms into the enclosure. If your pet has recently molted, remove uneaten prey items immediately. Newly molted tarantulas are vulnerable until their exoskeletons hardens.

Behavior This spider is very fast and aggressive. If it is provoked it will readily display and bite. In general tarantulas do best if they are housed singly and this works as well for Mombasa Golden Starburst Baboon Spiders. But despite their tough attitude with humans, they will readily mate.

Handling This species is very aggressive / defensive and should not be handled under any circumstances. The bite can be medically significant for some people. We suggest using a paint brush or other tool to corral the Baboon Spider and to move it from enclosure to enclosure for cleaning, maintenance, or for breeding attempts.

Reproduction The Mombasa Golden Starburst Baboon Spider has proven very easy to breed in captivity. As with most Pterinochilus species, mature males molt out quite small compared to females. They are usually only in the 2 to 3" (5 - 7.5 cm) range. They are slender and long-legged compared to females and they have no tibial hooks for mating. This size difference ultimately leads to their demise post-mating.

Adult males should be carefully introduced into the female's enclosure after he has produced a sperm web. The male can be protected with a piece of cardboard or other tool if he is to be used for further breeding attempts. Once mating occurs, the female should be fed more heavily and a variety of prey items.

Females tend to be very protective of their egg sacs and the young. Their egg sacs hold up well and hatch without much "motherly" attention, simply resting in a hammock in the female's webbed enclosure. Egg sacs commonly contain between 75 and 100 spiderlings that hatch in about five weeks. Often a second egg sac will be produced in a few months without an additional mating, this is called 'double-clutching'. Once hatched the spiderlings are easily raised. They are hardy and grow quickly.

Diseases: Ailments/TreatmentsTarantulas are generally quite hardy and adaptable if they are provided with the right environment. A few signs that may indicate that your pet is not acting or feeling normal are a loss of appetite, lethargy, looking overly skinny, or pacing the enclosure.

A tarantula on its back is probably not sick. Most tarantula species flip onto their backs during molting. Though this is a very stressful and delicate time for tarantulas, if the humidity and warmth levels are correct, they will molt their exoskeleton, roll over, harden up, and within a week or two be ready for their next meals.

  • Molting
    One of the most common reasons for your pet to demonstrate unusual behavior is due to a molting period. As they outgrow their existing skin all tarantulas regularly go through an extensive molt, shedding their entire skin as well as the linings of their mouth, respiratory organs, stomach and sexual organs.

    The process starts well before the actual molt. For several weeks prior to shedding they will be growing a new skin under their old one. During this time it is not unusual for a tarantula to get quite lethargic and even stop eating. There may also be lots of web spinning activity as they prepare to molt.

    When they begin to molt, they lay on their backs with their legs up in the air looking as if they are dead. Be sure not to disturb your tarantula when you see this. The shedding process goes quickly and smoothly as long the environment has adequate humidity.

    Once they have shed, their new skin is pale and very soft. The amount of time it takes for your pet to fully recover and be back to eating well will vary from a day or so up to several weeks depending on its size. Smaller spiders recover much quicker than larger ones.

  • Other Problems
    Other problems are usually the result of some type of environmental stress. There may be a drop in the temperature of the enclosure, there may be parasites, or the tarantula may just not be comfortable with the depth of its hiding place. These things can be easily adjusted or changed, or you can try moving your pet to a new enclosure.

Availability Baboon Spiders, and especially the genus Pterinochilus, have proven to be very hardy and quite prolific in captivity. Many species of Starburst Baboons are available on a regular basis by tarantula suppliers.


Author: Russ Gurley, Clarice Brough CRS
Lastest Animal Stories on Mombasa Baboon Spider

Phillip Van Blerk - 2014-05-14
Hi, I recently adopted a Mombasa golden starburst baboon spider, and have no idea what to do? I am aracnafobic don't like spider at all since one nearly killed me, but I'm trying to get over it, any advice???? I've got an enclosure for her but no idea what to do, or how to handle het, all I knw is she is old aged, about 10cm big and very agressive, also very beutifull, may I ask for any pointers?

  • Leanne - 2014-08-01
    Simple answer to handling. don't. Obts are extremely aggressive and will bite if they have to. The bite is very painful. They're not recommended for beginners for this reason. They're also very fast. She is best left alone with the enclosure only opened to feed or clean which requires a lot of care and undivided attention from you. Honestly, if you're afraid of spiders an obt is not the pet of choice.
terry - 2008-08-29
I just had a night in hospital due to an orange baboon bite, no display, no warning just jumped and bit my index finger. Intense burning pain to finger followed by burning bruiselike feeling that progressed up to shoulder. Was put on oxygen and antibiotics. Pain eased after around 5 hours, finger was numb approx 12 hours during this. Heart rate and blood pressure went high, now approx 26 hrs later no pain to finger but there is to base of digit which showed bruising and am now getting random joint pain and cramps to legs arms and neck. Spider was not provoked in any way and I've kept various spiders for many years, this is my first time bite. Little knowledge around on reactions to bites so I thought I'd post this. I am male 51, 6ft, 18 stone, and never had any reaction to bee or wasp stings... Editor's Note: WOW! Thanks for sharing this important iformation! This knowledge can go a long way in helping other hobbyists be prepared and take preventative measures.

  • went - 2010-07-23
    Okay, are you sure you didn't provoke it, but having said that I have been told that old world tarantula spiders, are nasty and aggressive, so they may attack without provocation.
  • Penny - 2010-12-06
    Old world tarantulas don't have urticating hair for defense which is one reason it is thought they are so aggressive. Mine would take the defensive position every time I fed her.
  • Simon - 2011-03-30
    I've learned from raising a mombasa that they are known to do that unfortunately it was my ex that found out the only thing I've done to keep being bitten from mine considering his attitude problem is to either talk gently to him or sing to him when I'm servicing his cage & make sure that I keep a close eye on him as well & it's bad that he did bite but I'm just glad that it was an adult & it only happened once.
  • DaniĆ«l - 2012-01-12
    Hey everyone, just thought I share this - was bitten by a Starburst Baboon Spider while camping at De Hoop this December. Scary experience and I can confirm the note of Terry above, the pain was severe and I experienced similar symptoms. I did not see the spider at all before the bite and must have frightened it accidently to evoke the attack. Thinking of getting one as a pet as after reading more about these special creatures I found them very interesting......
  • Cheryl Luhrs - 2013-11-17
    This is one T I find fascinating and a bit comical. He/she definately earns the  knickname (Orange Bitey Thing) that has been bestowed upon this sp. of Tarantula. I remember the 1st time I heard someone refer the OBT in this manner and it still brings a chuckle out of me. My T-hobby has grown into 26 spideys, most of them were purchased as spiderlings (or slings) and are all 'new world'. Their venom is much less signif. that the 'old world T's. These are fairly easy to breed and the females will actually care for their 'male' partner by sharing the food etc. until she has been bred.

    All T's are eye popping lil guys and even though she  colors up nicely, she'll let him and her 'guardians' have it every chance she's given.

    Incredibly interesting hobby but use your tong religiously to feed etc.  He/she is just waiting for the OBT change to nail ya.
B.Kelly - 2008-12-21
I recently acquired my Starburst Mombassa, about 3 months ago, and was placed in a plastic vivarium-box-thing approximately 12"-wide, 18"-long and 7"-deep. For the most of this, she refused to accept any prey offered until recently she began heavily webbing. At first we thought she was preparing for moult, but then I watched how she sat there and got the thought to try some prey in there. Bang, straight away took it and devoured it fairly quickly (only a single hopper). I was speaking with a local exotic creature expert who claimed this species can apparently easily survive without food for up to a year (and has been documented as longer) though I cannot verify this.
Mine is a fiesty and aggressive specimen. Every time I open the little plastic hatch in the lid either to offer prey or top up water or whatever, she will suddenly skitter across the entire tank and display or slap the paintbrush (if I'm prodding around) very aggressively.
If provoked, she readily displays and if the provocation continues, she seems to 'drum' on her webs, which makes a very cute display!

She is certainly one of the more active spiders I have seen (I've spent hours watching her burrowing and excavating (she tends to web an area of soil, then roll the webbed area into a ball, carry it off in her fangs and dump it to one side) and even just wondering), but do be careful. She is very agressive and much faster than you'd imagine a spider to be.

  • Simon - 2011-03-30
    They are very interesting, mine is a male & he insists on building his web up off the ground in a corner & when he is provoked he will display, hiss & sometimes pull jump twist acrobatics in mid air before landing, he is grouchy but he is also lazy & goofy as well.
Ted MacRae - 2013-11-16
I just got an OBT - a little over 3' from tip of right front to tip of left back leg and stocky so I presume a still juvenile female. I have her in a 10G aquarium with 4-6' of shredded coconut husk for bedding and a Y-shaped cork round leading down into the bedding for a natural hide. She stays in my office, which is typical office heating during the winter and cooling during the summer. The lights are on when I am there and off when I am not. Should I add any supplemental lighting or heat? Perhaps a day/night light? Specific recommendations would be greatly appreciated. She is VERY skittish to vibration or touch but not approach; I am really looking forward to watching her over the next several years (hopefully).

  • Ted MacRae - 2013-11-16
    Here is a photo of her.

  • Clarice Brough - 2013-11-17
    Wow, she's a real pretty little lady!
  • Clarice Brough - 2013-11-17
    It sounds like a good environment temperature-wise. I'm thinking the office temperature is so regulated itself, that it may not change significantly and so you may not need any black/red night lighting. What a fascinating creature you get to watch:)
jix - 2010-05-02
Hiya, I saw my pet this morning with one leg missing. Does it grow back?

  • Anonymous - 2010-07-08
    Next time it molts it should start growing back.
  • Ifrit - 2013-02-03
    The leg will not grow back, it's a spider not a reptile or starfish.
  • Allan - 2013-02-11
    It will grow back after a moult or two.
  • Anonymous - 2013-11-23
    It will not grow back. Even touching them during a molt can severely damage them for life.
  • Anonymous - 2013-12-22
    Yes, the leg will regenerate at the next moult. My 7 legged B.beohmei shed last week and now has her leg back.
  • CrossyRox - 2014-03-23
    Legs DEFINITELY grow back, it may take a couple of moults but it WILL return! Happened to a friend of mines Brazilian Black. Right as rain again after a couple of sheds and wasn't hindered at all in the mean time! :)

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